Insulation, air sealing, heat pump water heaters, HVAC duct work, and upgraded heating and cooling appliances will be available to North Carolina households on a pay-as-you-go basis under a new “tariffed on-bill” energy efficiency program introduced by Duke Energy, believed to be the first of its kind for an investor-owned utility in the United States.
When it takes effect in 2024, Duke customers will pay for the improvements through their monthly power bills, and will be guaranteed an annual reduction in electricity costs, Utility Dive reports. Duke began shifting its rates to cover implementation costs this month after the North Carolina Utilities Commission approved the program in August.
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“Tariffed on-bill programs have dramatically increased access to energy efficiency upgrades and demand-side management resources across the country in electric cooperative territories, but investor-owned utilities have been slow to adopt them,” said Shelley Hudson Robbins, project director at the non-profit Clean Energy Group.
Daniel Pate, energy program manager at the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, called the regulatory order a “win-win for ratepayers and the state alike.”
“This is a monumental decision by the North Carolina Utilities Commission—as it stands to potentially help thousands of families across North Carolina,” he said [pdf] in a release. “We’re excited to finally see a program designed to address the barrier of the upfront costs of residential energy efficiency, while also cost-effectively helping the utility meet its carbon reduction goals.”
Casey Fields, strategy and collaborations manager at Duke, told Utility Dive the company’s first step will be to reach out to households that have the most to gain from energy efficiency measures. But the program is open to anyone with at least 12 months of data on their past electricity use.
“A major barrier to customers are the up-front costs needed to get this kind of work complete,” Fields said. “Being able to charge a portion of that cost monthly on their electric bill may remove the barrier of having to gather all the cash together.”